Fico Dougan Story
Fico Dougan was the second to the youngest of seven siblings born to African parents. His parents came to this country in order to provide their families with a better life.
On September 25th 2013, Fico Dougan was brutally stabbed and killed by another 16 year old in the borough of Croydon. He was loved and cherished by many. He had many interests like any young person at 17 would. He had an unmatched love for vehicles such as cars and motorbikes and was studying at John Ruskin college when he lost his life.
Ficos Death was a shock to the whole community and anybody that knew him. You hear many reports of knife crime and youth violence across our community, boroughs and news but you never one day imagine It happening on your front doorstep. Our family was very hurt and distraught wondering why this happened to us, we decided to open my living room to some family members and friends as a form of healing and a safe space to share their feelings. We were surrounded by at least 20 – 25 young people that were traumatised by what had taken place. Many of these young people had never experienced anything like this before and so were experiencing new emotions and didn’t know how to cope. The safe space was supposed to help aid that.
The automatic response to something negative within the borough of Croydon is to retaliate the exact same way. Inflict pain/hurt on the people that have caused pain. There is a mentality that our community has been raised and built on which is an eye for an eye but in actioning this thought we would just be repeating and expanding a vicious cycle of violence that is already on a very large scale. Many of the young men and women that we came into contact with had that mentality and thought process – how do they avenge their friend, how do they ensure they get revenge which is also a normal reaction to trauma.
Opening my living room was the first step in presenting an alternative and taking a firsthand responsibility in the outcomes of the young people that were affected. One thing our community lacks is leadership. There is nobody or anything for young people to aspire to become or achieve and options are limited which are also some of the reasons that contribute to high levels of knife crime and youth violence within our community. The leadership they were introduced to also had to be very democratic in nature, which required their participation. It couldn’t be what they had already been used to.
My goal was to communicate a new vision, a new goal and present an alternative to revenge. In fact the alternative was success it wasn’t retaliation. So our evenings became talking about feelings. How they felt, spending time listening to their hurt, pain, anger and essentially showing up for them. We’re not raised or taught to be listened to, we were raised on being dictated to and being told what to do so I believe this was already a culture change. As we listened, we began to come up with coping methods and explaining that it was ok to have these feelings and how to manage them in the right way. As we began to listen, we also began to present another way of thought and ideology, have discussions which counteracted what is the automatic reaction of retaliation, the automatic feeling of hurt and pain.
As we began to have more conversations and time went on we saw a process of healing taking place but also a window of opportunity for young people to look at the situation differently. We began to have inspirational conversations with each individual which was very different to what they’re used to, and they began to see a bud of hope. As mentioned, options within our community are very limited young people don’t see themselves becoming much so they result to the options that have been presented to them. We also saw our small meetings grow from 20 to 30 to 40 people in an evening (I think the food also helped). We had to challenge many cultural factors that many of these young people had been raised on.
Our conversations and meetings began to evolve from managing their feelings and having a safe space to vent to possibilities, looking at what they wanted to become, who they aspire to be like and creating strategies to achieve it. These young people had never encountered anything like this before and so had to spend a lot of time considering what they wanted to become which also changed their focus. They were no longer focused on the pain but actually focussed on creating a new start and having a fresh outlook.
We saw many young people who initially aspired to become nothing starting to believe and dream. Many young people had the aspirations to go to university, start their own business, work in the corporate world, things they had never thought of. So one by one each person was mentored, spending our time working on higher education applications, creating CVs, going through interview techniques, providing funding where necessary, making connections in order for these aspirations to turn into a reality.
After one year of the Ficos World Foundation many of these young people looked completely different and thought differently. They created a memorial recruitment event for the passing of their friend which they curated and marketed themselves – it was the biggest positive event the borough had ever seen and another opportunity to invite people to what they had now been introduced too.
10 years on I still run this now foundation. Many of the young people should either be dead, in prison or in a mental home, I’m glad to say we didn’t lose a young life after the death of Fico Dougan in fact the complete opposite. We saw many young people go on to higher education, start their own businesses and start work in the corporate space.
Fico was a young man that was loved by many. He had many interests like any young person at 17 would. He had an unmatched love for bicycles and loved people.He was studying at John Ruskin college when he lost his life.
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